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In the Shadow of Denali (The Heart of Alaska) Paperback – January 3, 2017
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From the Inside Flap
"The Curry Hotel is my final stop as well." Allan reached a hand forward. "It was a pleasure, John. Thank you for your abundant insight. I'm sure my new boss will appreciate the crash course you gave me."
"It was my pleasure. You are most welcome. I hope we will see much more of one another." John clasped Allan's hand and shook it.
The train puffed and squealed as it pulled into Curry. Allan grabbed his belongings and his hat and followed John onto the platform.
A massive two-story structure dominated his view. A couple of bay windows framed the lower level on either side of the canopy denoting the Curry Hotel Depot. The broad wooden platform stretched from one end of the hotel to the other and beyond.
"Dad!" A young lady with dark hair smiled and waved from the crowd.
John chuckled and turned to him. "That's my daughter. It's nice to have a welcoming party, isn't it? Let me know if you need anything. Just ask anyone at the hotel for John Ivanoff and they'll find me." He walked away and toward his daughter.
Everything seemed to stop. Allan felt his pulse pounding in his ears. Ivanoff? John Ivanoff?
The noise of the platform died away and the world blurred around him. Several moments passed before he could see straight. The engine behind him gave a huge huff.
Off in the distance, the dark-haired lady held on to John's elbow as they walked into the hotel.
But how could this be?
Had he really just spent the day with the man responsible for his father's death? --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Back Cover
Their Future Depends on Unlocking the Secrets the Mountain Holds From the Past
Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel near the foot of Mount McKinley--Denali as it's still called by the natives. John is the wilderness and exploration guide for the wealthy tourists while Cassidy works in the kitchen as Cook's assistant. The entire staff buzzes with excitement during the busy days preparing for the President's imminent visit. His historic trip to dedicate the new national park on his way to driving in the golden spike to officially complete the Alaska Railroad will be the beginning of a new era for all of them and place The Curry at the heart of Alaska.
Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice to the seasoned Alaska mountain guide, with hopes of discovering the truth about his father's death on the mountain years earlier. His father's business partner blames the guide for Henry Brennan's untimely death, but Allan cannot be at peace until he knows for sure. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.
"Coauthors Peterson and Woodhouse begin a new series drawing on Alaska's rich history, featuring the authentic, lushly detailed setting and fleshed-out characterizations that fans of this duo have come to expect. Readers who enjoy Dani Pettrey will delight in immersing themselves in the Last Frontier."--Library Journal
"This novel is a beautiful story that takes place in the height of Alaska's renaissance."--Christian Market
"Set in the early 1900s, this first novel in the Heart of Alaska series hosts a cast of genuine characters who possess great strength and faith. The Curry, Ala., setting is captured in all of its glory. Cassidy and Allan's friendship-turned-romance incorporates nicely with the spiritual themes and mystery plotline."--RT Book Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
The fascinating history of the novel’s primary setting, Curry, Alaska and its most noteworthy feature, the renowned Curry Hotel, provides the setting where most of the story occurs. Care has been taken to preserve the area’s historical integrity and personality in the early twentieth century. Where assumptions are made and liberties taken with the specifics of the hotel and surroundings for the sake of a comfortable flow in the narrative they are spelled out in the authors’ notes at the end.
Biblical principles are, for the most part, interwoven with the narrative rather than spelled out in conversations, which results in a natural tone in dialogue rather than preachy homilies. To a large extent the story features the influence of Cassidy’s pure and honest heart upon people disillusioned by past losses and pain, drawing out the human capacity to turn from doubt to faith.
Readers will enjoy the passages about the beauty and majesty of Mount Denali which - although I have never seen it personally - can appreciate, having lived within view of the beautiful, though smaller, mountains of Colorado for most of my life. Details both of cooking gourmet foods and of mountaineering (although both are foreign to me) give interest and credence to the story. There is a romantic thread, and it develops naturally and unforced, not being itself the dominant story.
Cassidy, the principal character, is a delightful person, generous with acceptance and forgiveness, defending the downtrodden and disadvantaged, more precious and tender because her name, personality and character are based on the real Cassidy Faith Hale, a 15-year-old girl who died as the result of a vehicle/pedestrian accident in Holyoke, Colorado in 2015. The novel is dedicated to Cassidy in a touching tribute. Thomas, a gentle and lovable soul, eager to please others but often seeming to fail on account of being accident-prone, exhibits a Christlike spirit, loving even after romantic feelings are not reciprocated by the object of his affection. Mrs. Johnson, a woman with a harsh manner and a golden heart, carries wounds from past tragedy and proves to be a challenge to Cassidy’s efforts to befriend her and share her faith. Allan, the counterpart to Cassidy in the romantic thread, has a major part in solving the years-old mystery of his father’s death. Sinister intentions of Frank are evident from the first page, laying the foundation for the suspenseful final chapters and the climactic conclusion.
Not least is a very attractive cover for the book, with Cassidy in the foreground with Denali behind her, above a photo of now-defunct Curry Hotel. In the Shadow of Denali is a great beginning to a promising series.
Cassidy and her father, John, are native Alaskans. They've just recently begun working at the Curry hotel, she as an assistant in the kitchen and he as a nature/wildlife guide to the hotel's guests. Things are going so well at the hotel, John needs an assistant, but is shocked to find out the hotel manager has hired the son of the man he lost on an expedition up Denali years prior. Each must work through their misgivings, anger and trust to work together and eventually find out the truth about what actually happened on that climb.
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of suspense to the book. The characters are nice, but I just didn't connect with any of them, or feel what they were feeling. I did love the "scenery" and all the details about the area and the original Curry Hotel. It actually made me want to do a little research of my own about it. And even though I am a Christian, I didn't care for the way the message of forgiveness, and repentance were handled. I can't quite put my finger on it, but It felt a bit strong-arm or aggressive for me.
As for book 2 in the series, I can't say I'll seek it out to read it. I actually had to force myself to finish it so I could write a proper review. I wasn't all that interested in how the story finally ended, or what the truth behind the Allan's father's death actually was. I wish I felt different, especially because I love Alaska, but this just didn't hit the mark for me. I would, however, still recommend it to teens looking for a sweet, clean read.
I received an ARC from the publisher. No review was required–all opinions are my own.